What are Dicamba Herbicides?
Dicamba is a powerful herbicide that selectively kills broad-leafed weeds (as opposed to grass family plants). It is commonly used together with other herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
Although the herbicide has been used for years by some professional landscape engineers and home gardeners, typically as a component in other herbicides, it was reintroduced by the Monsanto Company for its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, Bollgard II XtendFlex Cotton, and Bollgard 3 XtendFlex Cotton.
While Monsanto developed GMO strains of soybean crops and cotton, the EPA has voiced concerns over the agribusiness’ proposed uses for dicamba, which is notorious for its toxicity, volatility, and potential for affecting other crops. Due to its risks for drifting and off-target movement that can cause harm to crops and soybean farmers, the EPA delayed approval of new dicamba formulations for years.
Recently, however, it approved three new formulations of the herbicide for the 2017 season that were supposedly less harmful than prior versions:
- XtendiMax (manufactured by Monsanto)
- Engenia (manufactured by BASF)
- Fexapan (manufactured by Dupont)
Because these formulations entered the market without being independently tested, and because numerous farmers were misled into believing they were safer than other versions, millions of acres of crops were damaged. The conduct of Monsanto and other manufacturers amounted to a real-life experiment – one which unfortunately came at the expense of the modern farmer whose livelihoods depend on their crops.
Dicamba is currently used in approximately 1,100 herbicide products, according to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) .
Dicamba Damage to Annual Crop Yield
There have been reports of target dicamba damaging crops and plants in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It is estimated that approximately 3.1 million acres of soybean crop were damaged.
Through surveys of state departments of agriculture, the findings identify at least 2,242 official investigations into crop damage nationwide, as of August 10, 2017. Estimates from state extension weed scientists, meanwhile, show suspected damage has affected at least 3.1 million acres of soybeans overall — an area approaching the size of Connecticut.
There have been a record number of complaints about off-site movement in multiple States. In Arkansas alone, there have been at least 876 complaints made by farmers to the Arkansas Plant Board. Arkansas and Missouri enacted bans on the use of dicamba, and several other states added additional restrictions in the middle of the growing season.
Additionally, valuable crops like tomatoes, tobacco, melons, pumpkins, and fruits have also been damaged by the herbicide, as well as standing timber and ornamentals.
Monsanto sold its seed prior to approval of the weed killer, and farmers in Arkansas have been using dicamba to kill pesticide-resistant pigweed (Palmer amaranth)  this growing season.
Environmental Protection Agency Approves Dicamba Ban
As a result of these problems, the Environmental Protection Agency has seen a record number of complaints of drift-damaged crops. The Arkansas Plant Board voted in June 2017 for a ban on using Dicamba  outside of pastureland, pending the governor’s signature.
Related Article: Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Lawsuit
Dicamba is moderately toxic by ingestion, inhalation or dermal exposure, according to the Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP) at Cornell University. Signs and symptoms of poisoning include:
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Central nervous system effects (victim may become excited or depressed)
- Benzoic acid in the urine
- Cyanosis (bluing of the skin and gums)
- Exhaustion following repeated muscle spasms
Inhaling dicamba can cause:
- Irritation of the linings of the nasal passages
- Lung damage
- Loss of voice
Dicamba is also extremely irritating and corrosive, and can cause permanent damage to the eyes. The eyelids may swell and the cornea may be cloudy for a week after dicamba is splashed into the eyes. The chemical may also cause severe burns.
Dicamba Vs. Glyphosate
Dicamba is considered to be even more toxic than glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which has been linked to the following serious side effects:
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Large Diffuse B-cell Lymphoma
- Follicular Lymphoma
- Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma
- Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma
- Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)
- Primary Central Nervous System (CNS) Lymphoma
Has a Dicamba Class Action Been Filed?
Multiple lawsuits have been filed over crop damage alleged from off-label dicamba use. In February 2017, a class action was filed in Missouri federal courts on behalf of farmers impacted in 10 states who claim their crops were damaged by dicamba drift.
A similar multi district litigation was filed in June 2017 by a commercial farmer in Arkansas who alleges that dicamba-based herbicides caused damage  to a million acres of soybeans. Plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for damage to crops, fruits and trees that weren't dicamba-resistant.
Please visit our Dicamba FAQ page if you'd like more information about these issues.
Related: Defective Products Lawsuits
Get a Free Dicamba Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Product Liability Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is investigating potential Dicamba Lawsuits in all 50 states. If you or a loved one was injured, you should contact our law firm immediately to discuss a potential settlement payment.